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The Egyptian mongoose, Herpestes ichneumon, is a possible reservoir host of visceral leishmaniasis in eastern Sudan

  • D. A. ELNAIEM (a1) (a2) (a3), M. M. HASSAN (a1), R. MAINGON (a2), G. H. NURELDIN (a1), A. M. MEKAWI (a1), M. MILES (a4) and R. D. WARD (a2)...

Investigations were made on possible reservoir hosts of Leishmania donovani in 2 zoonotic foci of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in Dinder National Park (DNP) and the peri-domestic habitats of adjacent villages of eastern Sudan. Animals were captured, in November 1997–1998 and April–May 1999 and examined for L. donovani infection using light microscopy and 2 sensitive Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) systems. Microscopy and PCR investigations were also used to determine the infection rates of L. donovani in Phlebotomus orientalis captured from the uninhabited site of DNP. Infections of L. donovani were detected in 2 out of 14 Egyptian mongooses (Herpestes ichneumon), 1 out of 168 Arviconthus niloticus and 1 out of 8 Mastomys natalensis. Samples from 68 other animals captured from the study area were all negative for the infection. Active zoonotic transmission of L. donovani at the time of animal sampling in the uninhabited site of DNP was demonstrated by finding the parasite in 3.4% (7 out of 184) and 3.2% (5 out of 157) of flies collected in March 1998 and May 1999, respectively. We suggest that the Egyptian mongoose is a possible reservoir host of L. donovani. The importance of other animals in maintaining the infection is also discussed.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author: School of Life Sciences, Keele University, Staffordshire ST5 5BG, UK. Tel: +44 1782 58 3417. Fax: +44 1782 58 3516. E-mail:
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